Chris and Talena make some excellent points here — we can't claim things are "fair" for women and artists of color until they're given the same opportunities to show work in exhibitions not explicitly for or about them. And the fact that this exhibition features the work of six men is a little conspicuous. But the previous show in the NCMA's North Carolina Gallery was a solo show for Beverly McIver (yep, a solo show for a woman of color). And the curator of "Word Up" happens to be a woman. So it feels odd to talk about "fairness" when the present discussion seems to assume "Word Up" is the product of the art-institutional boys' club, and that the NC Museum doesn't have a good perspective on gender and ethnic balance. I'd argue that the museum generally does an excellent job of bringing non-white/male voices into the discussion — "30 Americans" and the woefully under-appreciated and under-attended El Anatsui show (in addition to McIver's recent exhibition) are just a few recent examples of this. So "fairness," in this discussion, seems like it warrants at least acknowledgement of these things, and perhaps in fact a presumption that the curator of "Word Up" made her decisions with awareness and in good faith. There's a panel Q&A on August 24 at the museum with some of the artists and the curator — I hope y'all might consider attending and continuing this worthwhile discussion in person.
Major props to Nick, Ben, Mike T., the Reservoir dudes, Scotty from the past, and everyone else who's been involved in keeping the doors open there in that half-a-carwash on Brewer Lane for the past ten years. Providing the resources (space, time, and talent) to make music happen in a community like this truly is a labor of love. Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Raleigh and Durham have benefitted so tremendously from the energy and activity there, and believe me, it's gonna be missed.
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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